Facebook data breach. Have you been affected?

Last week, a whistle-blower revealed how Facebook data was illegally harvested and used to influence the US Presidential election. The breach occurred after Cambridge Analytica targeted users with political messaging after obtaining data from the social media platform.

Cambridge Analytica got this information from a researcher, who garnered details on the likes and habits of Facebook users via a personality quiz app called ‘This is Your Digital Life’. Crucially, this information was shared without user consent.

The data of around 270,000 users is thought to have been collected via the app, which also accessed public data from users’ friends. Of this, about 50 million profiles were harvested for Cambridge Analytica before the user consent rules were tightened up.

Since then, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has admitted to privacy errors and said that he made a mistake in not telling users about the leak when it was uncovered in 2015. It has also been revealed that Facebook could have done more to prevent the breach in the first place.

Worryingly, while Facebook is now changing the way it shares data with third-party applications, in addition to the Cambridge Analytica incident, Zuckerberg admits that this might not be the only instance where user data was exploited.

In fact, more apps could have “gotten access to more information, and potentially sold it” without Facebook knowing. As such, a full investigation of “every app that got access to a large amount of information” is now underway. While specific details haven’t been revealed, the number of apps thought to be covered by this investigation is in the “thousands”.

Facebook compensation claim

What this means, is that Facebook could now face compensation claims from thousands of users who had their profiles harvested. In fact, the first civil lawsuit relating to this breach has already been filed in the US, so it is only a matter of time before a group action case is launched in the UK.

Facebook has now promised to inform users if their data was accessed by any apps that might have misused it. In the meantime, to find out which apps have access to your Facebook data, it’s important to review your setting on the platform.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are carefully observing this case and may put together a group action to seek compensation. If you are a Facebook user and are concerned that your data has been accessed and exploited via an app on the platform, get in touch. We’ll let you know if and when you can claim.


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